Session 13A.6 An interactive website designed to enhance public understanding of storm surge threats

Thursday, 1 May 2008: 9:15 AM
Palms GF (Wyndham Orlando Resort)
Robert Bright, NOAA/NWS, North Charleston, SC; and F. Alsheimer, B. L. Lindner, G. Miller, D. Timmons, and J. Johnson

Presentation PDF (214.6 kB)

Significant advances have been made in the accuracy of tropical cyclone surge forecasting. However, the warnings issued to the public have remained relatively unchanged, despite the fact that most people do not fully understand them. A survey of 202 Charleston area residents found that 55% did not realize the main threat from a major hurricane in coastal areas was from storm surge, even though 93% had experienced hurricane effects sometime in their life. Attempting to make the risk of surge more understandable, an interactive website was developed which combines SLOSH estimated surge with elevation and tide data and then simulates the level of surge on photographs of nearly a thousand landmarks throughout the Charleston metropolitan area. Initial results of the project will be presented. Another survey of the public will reveal the effectiveness of this approach. The results of the study will be used by the National Weather Service in Charleston to help convey the risks of storm surge in landfalling tropical cyclone situations as well as with their public outreach throughout the year.
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